Oct. 12th Question: A Loyalist Satire

Just a reminder: We do not have class on Monday, October 10, because of Columbus Day. We will have our quiz on Chapter 5 on Wednesday as usual, and you can download the review sheet here.

Keep in mind that the midterm will be held on Monday, Oct. 24, as scheduled on the syllabus, and it will cover everything up through Chapter 6 (the syllabus says up through Chapter 7, but we are a week behind due to the semester’s late start because of the hurricane). It would be a good idea to start organizing and reviewing your notes–we’ll talk some more about some study strategies in class on Wednesday.

Lastly, I would recommend that you begin reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, particularly if you are a slow reader. You can buy the recommended version here, or simply read it online here. We will begin our discussion of the first few chapters of this book on the class session after the midterm (Wednesday, Oct. 26).

Now let’s move on to this week’s web comment. The syllabus says that the Oct. 5 comment was required, but since we’re a week behind, we will not yet do the required one yet–we’ll save it for the following week when we actually read about the Constitution. So instead, I have an optional question that deals with the last phase of the Revolutionary War. If you have not yet commented, please think about doing so as you need to do at least six over the semester to receive a decent grade for this component of the course.

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For almost the entire Revolutionary War, New York City was occupied by British forces, serving as the headquarters for the British war effort. A great many patriots fled the city, making it a redoubt of loyalist sentiment. One influential loyalist was the printer James Rivington, who published a newspaper called the Royal Gazette (the masthead is at the top of this post). On January 31, 1781, Rivington published a satirical “last will and testament” of the Continental Congress. You can read his satire here.

Before answering the questions below, make sure you understand what was going on at that particularly point in time. The war was still going on, with most of the fighting now happening in the South. Patriot General Nathanael Greene had just defeated Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, but the war still was far from over. Cornwallis wouldn’t surrender at Yorktown until later that year, in October. Review the events of this period on pages 123 – 125 of your textbook. when you have done that, reread Rivington’s satire and answer the following questions: What tactics is Rivington using to make fun of Congress? Why might his audience find his depiction of the independence movement as pact with the devil amusing? What do Rivington’s attacks tell you about his own position? (He was obviously against independence, but what might be some specific reasons)? Please answer these questions in one-to-two paragraphs, citing evidence from Rivington’s text.

Published in: on October 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm  Comments (12)